Today, a great lesson in the rules of perception…
About a week ago, this happened: when asked by a woman TV reporter at the Etiwanda Fire – “Sir, do you live around here?” – a shirtless, 30-year-old Clay Narey replied: “Yeah. Wow, you’re super pretty. Do you wanna go on a date sometime?” (see video below)
Except that this was live news. And the guy didn’t have a shirt on. And he was carrying a little dog around as a raging crazy fire, the magnitude and severity of which only a person from Southern California can truly comprehend, loomed in the background. And this was the 909.
The 909, or the I.E. (Inland Empire), is basically the entire east desert area of Los Angeles – anything past the 605 through Palm Springs, south of the Cajon Pass/Glen Helen, and north of maybe Temecula (the southern boarder if the I.E. is kinda fuzzy) is fair game for inclusion…
The area holds many incredible gems: the Claremont Colleges, Puddingstone Lake, UC Riverside, the Mission Inn and Glen Ivy, and – most importantly – Raging Waters! (which you may know as Waterloo in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) But the 909 has also been overcome with stereotype – think FOX Racing, methamphetamines, and heat like you can’t imagine. Put simply, a third local euphemism for the 909 is The Valley of the Dirt People.
(pictured: Puddingstone, image via Google)
Anyway, Clay was quickly branded “Shirtless Bro,” and his impromptu request was widely watched (and ridiculed) ’round the interwebs as quintessential 909.
Except that he’s not.
A reporter from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin took the time out to track Clay down and see what he’s really all about. This is some of what he found:
[Clay] was born and raised in Huntington Beach and has lived in Rancho Cucamonga off and on. He was in the Marines from 2003 to 2007, with two tours in Iraq, and fought in the Battle of Fallujah. He has a Purple Heart. (here)
Clay has only been living in the 909 full-time for the past month.
I found this entire situation to be a really interesting lesson in stereotype and the rules of perception. Rather than ridicule, couldn’t we have just as easily focused on the kindness of carrying the little dog (who was probably terrified) and the fact that Clay was bold enough to ask the chic out..? Because if you’ve ever seen one of those fires, you know that it could have very easily been their last day on earth.
Read “Shirtless Bro: a clothes encounter with 909 celeb” in full here – it’s really worth it.
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